When it comes to being a real estate agent, there is a lot more to the process than submitting offers and handing over the keys. A typical transaction involves a multitude of tasks from start to finish that require coordination, expertise, and dedication.

Initially, many solo REALTORs opt to handle the transaction process themselves. There are two great reasons to do so. First, it allows the agent to have more control over the process.  Completing transactions will also help them understand the processes and potential pitfalls, which is useful if they decide to add more agents to their real estate team. Additionally, most new real estate agents don’t have enough transactions or an operating budget big enough to hire a Transaction Coordinator at the beginning of their career

However, once an agent is working with several buyer and seller clients at the same time, a Transaction Coordinator is essential. Having the aid of a transaction coordinator ensures everything runs smoother, so the agent doesn’t get burned out working excessive hours trying to juggle too many tasks at once. Additionally, the extra time can be utilized to market yourself as a real estate agent.

Think about the work and time that goes into a single real estate transaction:

  • Showing homes to clients
  • Conversing with clients
  • Creating listings on MLS
  • Writing offers
  • Negotiating concessions
  • Inspection coordination
  • Lender coordination
  • Title company coordination
  • All the stuff that comes up during a transaction that you wish didn’t!

The above list is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t cover all of the paperwork, computer hours logged in, telephone calls, miles on the road driving from listing to listing, open houses, and more. Many REALTORs work 6-7 days a week and often express that there are simply not enough hours in the day to complete everything, especially when the market is hot.

Undoubtedly, hiring a transaction coordinator is one of the best hires any real estate agent can make. The transaction coordinator will lighten the agent’s load so they can spend more time with clients, send real estate marketing mailers, and focus on getting additional transactions under contract. Together, the agent and the coordinator can function like a well-oiled machine to ensure all-around satisfaction and success.

What Does a Transaction Coordinator Do?

Many people confuse a transaction coordinator with an administrative assistant. Initially, a real estate agent looking for help will advertise for an assistant to help with some of the day-to-day tasks (Jack or Jill of all trades). They will outline a job description that encompasses all the agent’s needed administrative duties. These duties include scheduling, sending real estate postcards, social media management, staging homes, running errands, coordinating with handymen and contractors, and answering calls.

As great as an Admin can be, they usually cannot help with the paperwork associated with completing a real estate transaction. The agent will have to make a second hire, typically an experienced transaction coordinator who will focus on processing all the necessary paperwork for listings and transactions under contract.

A transaction coordinator’s job is to focus on coordinating with all of the parties associated with their pending real estate transactions and, in some cases, setting up new listings. They strive to keep the process streamlined, organized, and (most of all) on schedule to meet the Close of Escrow date.

Most real estate agents know what is involved in closing a successful deal. There are a multitude of tasks the transaction coordinator will tackle.

The duties of a transaction coordinator will differ but often include the following (some terminology will differ by state):

  • Create listings on MLS
  • Open escrow once a home is under contract
  • Plan, schedule, and coordinate all inspections of the property
  • Coordinate with the seller to ensure that inspectors have access to the property when needed
  • Work on concession addendums for all repairs and the completion of the repairs on time
  • Communicate frequent updates to all parties involved in the transaction
  • Monitor the contingency periods to ensure contractual compliance
  • Ensure all required documents are complete and submitted by the necessary dates
  • Coordinate the property’s closing process
  • Schedule all after-close follow-ups
  • Obtain client testimonials and online reviews
  • Ask for potential referrals (this requires someone who is great)

Larger real estate brokerage firms often have their transaction coordinator or team of transaction coordinators who work in-house. However, small real estate agencies, small real estate teams, boutique real estate brokerages, or solo real estate professionals will need to hire independent transaction coordinators to handle their workload and contracts. Not only will a transaction coordinator make life easier for real estate agents, it is also an excellent real estate value proposition example. If the office is only made up of two or three agents, then they can often share the workload with a single transaction coordinator. It’s also important to note that not all transaction coordinators are full-time. There are lots of transaction coordinators out there who work for a “per file fee”. These fees can range from $300 to $600 per file.

Why is a Transaction Coordinator Important?

The job of a real estate agent is a lot like the two sides of a coin. There is the customer service aspect of the career, and then there is the transaction side. Both are as different as night and day but are both necessary to be a successful real estate agent. They are integral and must work together to close a successful deal and ensure everyone is satisfied with the ultimate outcome.

The transaction coordinator works hard with the paperwork (both paper and electronic), coordination, phone calls, and other tedious tasks. The agent handles the face-to-face customer service part of the job with the sellers, buyers, and others.

A successful agent depends on their transaction coordinator and vice versa. The agent will show properties and focus on all aspects of real estate marketing while the transaction coordinator handles the behind-the-scenes tasks.

Activities that a transaction coordinator focuses on include:

  • Keeps an eye on the seller’s transactions – initial contract to the finalization of the agreement
  • Assist the real estate agent with preparing all materials such as pre-listing presentations, seller’s disclosures, listing agreement, property’s comparative market analysis, research on old multiple listing service (MLS) listings, and pulling online property profiles.
  • Coordinates all the necessary aspects of the property such as photos, needed repairs, cleaning, staging, lockbox, access requirements, scheduling, marketing activities, and signage.
  • Ensure all signatures have been obtained for the listing agreement, disclosures, and various real estate transaction documents.
  • Schedules showings and obtains feedback about the property, which might be necessary.
  • Sets up and coordinates all public open houses (including broker open houses).
  • Data entry of all listing information into the MLS and related marketing websites.
  • Updates all listing details as needed.
  • Provides all documentation to the office broker regarding file compliance
  • Manages the data entry of client information and transaction history into the management systems.
  • Schedules and coordinates the title and escrow, appraisal, and mortgage loan with the loan originator.
  • Coordinates the property inspections.
  • Maintains all communication between clients, agents, loan officers, underwriters, title officers, and escrow.
  • Submits the needed documentation to the broker to ensure compliance
  • Coordinates the final move and possession date and time
  • Schedules and may attend the closing
  • Ensures all the client information has been correctly placed in the client database system
  • Coordinates with the Admin or Marketing manager for any postcard marketing – such as sending out a Just Listed postcard or Just Sold postcard.

What should you look for in a Transaction Coordinator?

Many brokerages have their own transaction coordinator, but if an agent has the necessary budget, they might want to consider hiring their own TC to work alongside them and provide even better service.

Pays Close Attention to Detail

A skilled transaction coordinator has a meticulous eye for detail. When working on a real estate transaction, it’s easy to miss minute details if the TC is not performing due diligence, paying attention to the fine print, or putting in the extra time to examine all aspects of the deal effectively. Missing key points (even small ones) can lead to delays.

However, remember that a person can become too focused on the micro points of the position and waste valuable time on tiny things instead of moving forward. A successful transaction coordinator knows how to achieve a natural balance in every transaction. They are well-organized people who excel at multitasking, meeting deadlines, tackling minor issues or big problems, and working things out to the satisfaction of everyone involved.

Relevant Experience in Real Estate

It’s nice to find a skilled transaction coordinator with extensive real estate experience or a REALTOR who prefers working behind the scenes instead of focusing on sales. A skilled individual is worth their weight in gold, so you should be willing to pay a competitive salary to bring on someone with a solid knowledge base and relevant experience. It will definitely end up worth the extra cost in salary to not have to take the time to train an inexperienced Transaction Coordinator.

Ability to Learn Quickly

If an experienced Transaction Coordinator isn’t available or too costly, the next best option is to hire someone with experience coordinating projects, but perhaps not in the real estate industry. An experienced coordinator will not have as steep of a learning curve, and if they can learn the real estate transaction process quickly, you can have a valued TC trained in just a couple of weeks.

Whether you hire an experienced Transaction Coordinator or hire one with limited experience, their ability to learn your systems quickly will ensure smooth sailing.

Organizational Skills

One could argue that organizational skills fall under the category of close attention to detail, but organization is a stand-alone expertise that many people lack. A transaction coordinator juggles multiple tasks and must have the ability to keep them all organized both mentally and using a CRM.

Their organizational skills must be impeccable to succeed at the job. If someone becomes easily flustered or lacks the ability to categorize the necessary steps, then they might want to look for a different career path.

Ability to Stay on Task

The ability to complete the task at hand is imperative. Leaving loose ends during a transaction leads to problems. Every task has a time frame and deadline. There is no room for deviation. Many people participate in a real estate transactions and depend on all the necessary things getting done on time. All tasks must be completed before moving on to the next step.

Punctual and Able to Meet Deadlines

There is no room for error when it comes to meeting deadlines and being punctual in real estate. Everyone’s schedule takes coordination, and if a deadline is not met, it impacts the chain of command from the bottom up. It also looks unprofessional and can damage the real estate agent’s reputation. In the worst-case scenario, missed deadlines can lead to expired listings, which can be tough on an agent’s confidence and ability to obtain future listings.

Outstanding Social and Communication Skills

Transaction coordinators spend a great deal of time on the phone talking with people and communicating via email. They will converse with buyers, sellers, other agents, inspectors, surveyors, lenders, escrow agents, title agents, and more. A TC should feel comfortable speaking with various people over the phone, by email, in person, and through telecommunications technology. A career as a TC does not allow a person the luxury of ducking a phone call or putting it off until later.

Ongoing Commitment

Of course, a person typically works due to a financial need. However, it also helps if the person enjoys their job. The career of being a transaction coordinator is not easy. It is extraordinarily complex with ample paperwork and can quickly become monotonous. Picking the correct candidate will depend on the applicant’s credentials and personality. Most agents will want someone they can work with closely and efficiently.

How should Transaction Coordinators be Compensated?

A transaction coordinator is typically paid either with a flat fee per transaction or using an hourly wage that may or may not include bonuses. Real estate transaction coordinators are in demand if they have experience. Usually, any agent who closes more than 11 homes per year will want to work closely with a TC and be willing to compensate the transaction coordinator for their skills.

Working with a TC will typically free up an extra 5 to 10 hours per transaction of a real estate agent’s time which the agent can then spend on other listings, scheduling, showings, real estate farming, and sales. Most REALTORs will figure out the cost per hour of the 5 to 10 hours they will save for each transaction that they rely on a TC to help carry the load. This simple deduction gives them an idea of how much they are willing to pay for an experienced transaction coordinator.

Hiring a Full-Time, In-House Transaction Coordinator

A full-time, in-house transaction coordinator is wholly dedicated to their brokerage, team, or agent. Hiring a full-time TC is an ideal option on a team with multiple agents and at least 10-15 transactions a month. In such an atmosphere, it is not unusual for a TC to be required to also complete other tasks such as marketing during downtime or periods when things are slow.

Before you decide on whether you want to hire a full-time Transaction Coordinator, it’s important to crunch some numbers. Smaller teams often find a full-time transaction coordinator is expensive, and within a few months, they have to lay off a TC or switch to part-time.

Glassdoor reports that the average salary of a TC is roughly $43,323 annually. In addition to covering the cost of wages, an employer must also pay employment taxes and benefits if the TC is a full-time employee. MIT’s business school figures that the cost for an employee is about 1.3 times their full-time salary. The salary will also differ based on geographic region. Some real estate transaction coordinators will also require benefits such as health insurance and 401k’s. In today’s difficult employment market, you may also need to utilize the services of a professional recruiter. Recruiter fees for this type of role vary from 15% to 25% of annual compensation. If you do utilize a recruiter to assist with the hire of your transaction coordinator, you’ll want to make sure that you have a guarantee of at least 90 days that if the individual doesn’t work out, the recruiter will find you a replacement for free.

The Cost in the Process of Hiring an In-House TC

Hiring a full-time employee to join the agency to collaborate with a solo agent is not only costly from a financial aspect but also a time-heavy chore. An agent, broker, or team leader must sit down and review resumes and schedule interviews.

Sadly, even after finding, interviewing, and hiring a TC, sometimes things just don’t work out for various reasons.

With almost 50 percent of TC hires failing in less than two years, the agent or brokerage firm is then faced with repeating the hiring process to find a new transaction coordinator. The entire thing becomes expensive and time-exhausting but is a necessary task that any business must plan to tackle financially.

Hiring an External Transaction Coordinator

The prohibitive cost of hiring a transaction coordinator causes many solo agents and small agencies to seek a TC externally using freelance services. A virtual real estate transaction coordinator is more affordable but is often tricky. Transaction coordinators who work virtually charge by the transaction. Most will charge roughly $350 to $600 per transaction. Depending on experience and geographic location, many transaction coordinators even charge $800 for a dual-agent transaction.

Most agents who hire a transaction coordinator and pay per transaction close 11 or fewer deals per year. Hiring a virtual transaction coordinator and paying per transaction can quickly become too expensive if an agent closes 12 or more deals per year. As a successful real estate agent grows their business, a full-time transaction coordinator will be more cost-effective and even save them money if they have enough volume.

The Cost of Hiring a Virtual Transaction Coordinator

Freelance virtual transaction coordinators have many associated indirect costs. Many people are pursuing a career as a transaction coordinator because it lets them work from home, which is beneficial, especially following the COVID pandemic when remote working has burgeoned.

There are thousands of virtual transaction coordinators online looking for work, but many have little skills or experience. Hiring a TC virtually is not without risk. Many lack sufficient real estate knowledge or experience to conduct the complicated job requirements, despite their claims. If the TC messes things up, the agent looks bad in front of clients and everyone else involved.

If an agent does not trust their TC, they will need to check to make sure all work is appropriately completed, fix, and double-check each transaction which becomes time-consuming. A skilled transaction coordinator will spend 15 hours per transaction, but if a realtor has to check everything, then they will spend five hours per transaction. If they close 20 deals per year, then that works out to 100 hours per year checking each one.

Top real estate agents make approximately $111,800 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. If the agent works 1801 hours per year, then they make approximately $62 per hour. An agent who spends 100 hours a year checking their transaction coordinator’s work at $62 per hour will waste $6,200 per year.

Clearly, hiring a transaction coordinator who is not skilled, lacks knowledge, or constantly makes mistakes is costly. An agent does not want to waste time and money going behind every transaction to ensure things are done correctly. If the agent hires a professional transaction coordinator who brings skill and knowledge to the table, then they will not need to double-check everything.

Part-time or Full-Time Transaction Coordinator?

One of the biggest questions you will have to answer before hiring a transaction coordinator is: do you need a part-time or full-time transaction coordinator? The answer will hinge on the number of transactions you average per year and your budget.

Are you a solo real estate agent? If you do not have the clients to back a full-time transaction coordinator, then you might want to go with a part-time worker.

Small agencies, made up of only two or three agents, can sometimes share a single full-time transaction coordinator. The full-time transaction coordinator can serve two or three agents. Just be sure to avoid overwhelming your TC, and if the workload starts to grow as your agency brings in more clients, you’ll want to bring on another TC to meet the needs of the agents.

Source: wisepelican.com ~ Image: wisepelican.com

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